Saturday, March 19

Michael Schiavo: Loving Husband or Monster?

by Bonnie Chernin Rogoff

As national pro-life groups and prominent leaders converged in vigils outside Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park, Florida, Terri Schiavo is inside the building in her bed, still hooked up to the feeding tube that has been center-focus of this so-called "right-to-die" case for the past several years. Ms. Schiavo is profoundly disabled and cannot communicate with words at this time.

But she knows. She feels. There's expression in those eyes. Just one look at her in a video with her mother and everyone except the Scarecrow on his way to Oz knows it, too.

Recently, another presumed "brain-dead" woman made news in Kansas. In a coma after becoming the victim of a drunk driver, Sarah Scantlin snapped out of a twenty year silence and began to speak. Memories are now coming back to her. By legal definition, Miss Scantlin's life is valid. Yesterday, it was not. Was she ever in a persistent vegetative state, or PVS? She'd respond to questions by blinking once for no, twice for yes, but since she couldn't speak no one was ever sure she understood the questions.

That's the problem. No one is ever sure. The only ones who claim to know what's best for the profoundly disabled are those who seek to benefit the most by having them legally murdered.

On Monday, February 21, new hearings will commence before Judge Greer with regard to the Schiavo case. The Empire Journal reports that David Gibbs III, attorney representing Terri's parents Robert and Mary Schindler, will argue that new medical tests be ordered for Terri based upon a new brain imaging study published in the journal Neurology. These tests could determine whether Terri Schiavo is, in fact, in a PVS. Since Judge Greer believes she is, ruled to have her killed and has thus far refused the admission of any medical evidence that would save Terri's life, I'd be shocked to see him budge.

Greer has been acting in the dual role of judge and guardian ad litem. He previously denied a petition by Terri's parents that their daughter be given a swallowing test, and has denied them the right to visit Terri. He continues to promote the interests of Michael Schiavo by refusing Terri the right to independent counsel, a right which even serial killers like Ted Bundy received.
Whenever people discuss euthanasia, you'll always find those who will defend the odious practice. However, no one defends domestic violence. That leads to the 6 ft. 6 inch, 250 pound problem: Michael Schiavo. The evidence compiled against him suggests a history and pattern of domestic abuse against Terri and other women that is strong and significant. An immediate criminal investigation is warranted.

The main evidence comes from a bone scan taken on March 5, 1991. As Terri's guardian, Michael Schiavo denied her family access to Terri's records, the results of which were not made available until November, 2002. This scan indicated numerous broken bones in various stages of healing, including compressions fractures, a broken back, pelvis, ankle, bone bruises and ossifications.

Board certified radiologist Dr. Walker read the scan in 1991 and interpreted the results as abnormal, which he attributed to either an accident or earlier trauma. Based on the remodeling process of her bones, Dr. Walker stated in his deposition that a) the injuries indicated by the scan occurred on or around the time that Terri Schiavo collapsed; b) the abnormalities on the bone scan were not typical of someone suffering cardiac arrest and collapsing to the floor, and c) the fractures indicated by the bone scan are not typical of patients bedridden only thirteen months. As recorded in Dr. Walker’s November 21, 2003 deposition, Terri might have been the victim of foul play via a blow to her body, being thrown into a sharp furniture corner, or assaulted with a blunt object.

On October 24, 2003, renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden was interviewed by Greta van Susteren on Fox News. He disclosed that with low potassium and no elevated enzymes, it would be extremely rare for a young woman to collapse as Terri did from a heart attack. When asked what the bone injuries suggest to him, Dr. Baden replied, "Some kind of trauma. The trauma can be from a fall, or the trauma can be from some kind of beating that she obtained from somebody somewhere. It's something that should have been investigated in 1991 when these findings were found."

Other medical testimonies are in agreement. One medical expert testified that a diagnosis of a heart attack was never made. Another testified that Terri's rigid neck indicates she may have been the victim of strangulation. Psychiatrist and expert witness Carole E. Lieberman, M.D., M.P.H. offered preliminary thoughts and provided a chilling profile of Michael Schiavo as an abusive husband.

Prior to Terri's collapse, there were serious financial problems in her marriage and her husband Michael tried to control her behavior. He was fired from six jobs in two years, some of which he held only two weeks. They often lived on her income, which Michael often spent on himself. He monitored her odometer and isolated her from her family and friends. On the day of her collapse, Michael and Terri had a bad fight after he accused her of spending too much money at the hairdresser.

Dr. Lieberman concludes: "He (Michael) should most definitely be investigated as the perpetrator of the 'incident' that caused Terri's collapse and her current condition."

Michael Schiavo insists that Terri stated early in their marriage that she never would want to be kept on life support. Even if that were true, Terri is not on life support; she breathes on her own. Since Terri has no written will, everything Michael Schiavo says is hearsay. He violated numerous Florida statutes and the Americans for Disabilities Act by failing to perform his duties as his wife's guardian, most notably by denying his disabled wife basic medical care as part of a malpractice settlement award he received.


Ed note: According to testimony under oath in a deposition given May 8, 2001 by a woman Michael Shiavo dated after Terri was hospitalized: Regarding Terri’s care, according to Cindy Shook, Michael Schiavo said "How the hell should I know we never spoke about this, my God I was only 25 years old. How the hell should I know? We were young. We never spoke of this."

However, of all Michael's offensive actions against his wife, what I deem most suspicious was his decision to have Terri cremated immediately upon her demise. In all the documentation on this case, there is not a single account of Terri Schiavo having ever expressed a desire to be cremated. Michael's excuse is to say that she wouldn't want a standard burial because she "doesn’t like bugs." I’m not buying. The likely reason is that Michael has something to hide - like the cause of her numerous bone injuries, perhaps? – and he doesn't want an autopsy to uncover any incriminating evidence.

So, what really happened on February 25, 1990? We know that Terri fell in her home and sustained serious injuries. We know that Michael Schiavo, who was trained in CPR, oddly did not administer CPR to his wife. We know for the past fifteen years his only mission has been to deny any rehabilitation for Terri.

Dr. Carole Lieberman observed, "If Terri were to be allowed to die, as Michael has been desperately struggling to achieve for years, it could help him escape detection. This would be a grave miscarriage of justice."

That’s exactly the way Michael Schiavo and the Florida judicial system want it.

No comments:

Contributors